Repsol Honda flying Down Under

Repsol Honda riders Marc Marquez and Dani Pedrosa worked tirelessly during the final day of testing at Phillip Island, but both riders achieved top three positions. Marc 2nd, with Dani in 3rd.

Honda found a new setting that allowed for a more settled and flexible electronics package, whilst Marquez could build on his race pace and consistency in the latter half of the day. Pedrosa’s side of the garage was in praise of the steps made by Michelin, who have been developing the front tyres throughout the test.

“I’m very happy with how it went today because we improved a lot, especially in the afternoon, even if I did my best lap time in the morning. In the end I felt much more comfortable and it seems that yesterday’s long runs were useful for improving the electronics and getting closer to the level we wanted to reach, said the reigning champion.

“Overall, I think it has been three very positive days, and we did a good job. Of course we shouldn’t forget that this circuit is quite particular, and in Qatar we’ll see where we really are.

It is the Spaniard’s birthday today, and he wasn’t shy in sharing the positive vibes that the team were emitting. “Today I had a funny present from my team, a magnifying glass; I know I’m quite persistent in asking to check the data to find the issues we had, and they told me to find it myself! I’m very thankful that HRC is putting in a lot of effort, and step-by-step we’re getting better. I’d like to wish all the best to my Crew Chief Santi, who wasn’t able to be here at Philip Island because of some medical checks. We all missed him and we’re looking forward to seeing him with us again at the next test!”

Dani Pedrosa was much happier, now that he had overcome a sudden illness which kept him down the timesheets on day 2. “Overall I think it’s been a very positive test, especially considering that this isn’t one of my favourite tracks. I was riding quite well and I think we improved day by day.

Pedrosa reiterated his illness yesterday, but was glad he got in one productive day in testing today. “Yesterday I wasn’t feeling well but today I felt a bit better and we could do a good job on the track. The team has worked very well. We focused again on electronics and on the setup of the bike, and the only thing we missed was a long run, as we ran out of time. Michelin have also made some good steps forward with the tyres. All in all, we can say we’re heading in the right direction, even if we still have some work to do.”

Kiko Giles @MotoGPKiko

Aprilia on the Up as Phillip Island Test Concludes

Aleix Espargaro concluded the Phillip Island Test with a lot of positives, as he placed the Gresini Factory Aprilia in 10th place, whilst teammate Sam Lowes was 21st on the final day.

The team worked solidly, trying to find a sweet-spot for race distance runs, maintaining the pace through a race being the end goal. Espargaro praised the forward direction, saying that they’d found solutions in fast corners as well as saying that the bike suits his riding style.

“We are leaving these tests at a good overall level. We really worked hard. Today we focused on consistent performance. The RS-GP did very well in race simulations but we know that there is still room for improvement on that front, said Aleix, who joined the team from Suzuki last season.

“Here at Phillip Island I found a bike that once again suits my riding style in braking, whereas we were able to improve in terms of grip compared with the Sepang tests. After talking with the others, I think that we should be able to gain something in the turns, especially the fast corners, speaking of which, we tried a few changes to the chassis architecture to see if we could find more speed in the centre of the turns.

The 27-year-old said that they will continue with this attitude in Qatar. “In Qatar we will continue in this direction, trying both the new fairing and the evolved engine again to establish the base for the first race weekend.”

Sam Lowes was also riding well; the Brit was one of only two riders not to break the pole time set in 2016 but the distance from him to the top has shrunk dramatically over the three days, and now stands at just 1.6 seconds.

“There are many more positive aspects of our tests than it may seem. I started off with a few difficulties, but growth was constant. I managed to stay up with the group of riders ahead of me, despite a few uncertainties in my fast lap that cost me a couple of tenths, said the Moto2 winner from the previous two seasons.

“We obviously need to be faster, but I think that all the riders on the grid would say the same. The gaps are incredibly close. Except for the top two, practically all the other riders are within just over a second.

The former World Supersport champion said that he could battle for points in the race, but their potential is far superior to that.

“To be honest, if we were to race tomorrow I think I could battle for the points zone, but I know that our potential is much higher, so the tests in Qatar will be our chance to look for another step forward. What Aleix demonstrated with the 2017 bike is an important sign. I know that I have a good technical package to start the season in the best possible way.”

Kiko Giles @MotoGPKiko

Lada Could Be Back – WTCC

Photo Credit: (c) Lada Sport


LADA could still race in WTCC despite no factory backing.

Just two months ago the factory LADA squad announced that the Russian manufacturer will not return to the FIA World Touring Car Championship in 2017, even though driver contracts were already in place. The decision was devastating for the series and a secondary class had to be introduced in order to keep entries above the minimum 16. Thanks to the team boss Victor Shapovalov, we might see Vestas on the grid after all.

Shapovalov’s Russian Bears Racing team competed in WTCC as a privateer entry in 2008, before becoming a factory LADA squad the following year. This might happen again thanks to the agreement between him and the series promoter Eurosport Events, which is reported to be in place. Although LADA won three races in 2016 and established itself as a very competitive car, it is unlikely they will enjoy the same success this year, as without factory backing the team will probably not feature any front-running drivers.

Photo Credit: (c) WTCC

Lada Sport Rosneft finished third in the 2016 WTCC championship behind the strong Honda and Citroen teams. they secured three wins across the season winning both races in Russia courtesy of Nick Catsburg and Gabriele Tarquini and then in Qatar it was Tarquni who took the top step of the podium in Race Two. Dutchman Catsburg managed to finish seventh in the drivers championship with Tarquini two places behind him.

The full 2017 grid for the 2017 WTCC Championship is yet to be confirmed but the news that Lada could be back on the grid can only be good for fans of WTCC.

Stay tuned for further updates.

Tomasz Kubiak

Twitter: @tomekkubiak

Go On Geezer!

The fry up. The scone. The pint of Marston’s Pedigree. The British Bulldog. And now, Cal Crutchlow. These things are synonymous with the British way of life, and now that Cal Crutchlow has become a winner for a 2nd time, it’s hard to ignore the fact that, he is one of the most talented sportsman in Great Britain. I suppose it’s like waiting for a bus, you wait ages and two come along at once; exactly what has happened in terms of waiting for a top class British winner.

“The Honeybadger” joined MotoGP in 2011, securing rookie of the year and a best finish of 4th at the final race of the year in Valencia. He came to MotoGP after winning multiple times in World Superbike, and although he had options to stay and be world champ, he acknowledged that he’d have to make the jump to a series on the up instead of stay in a championship in a spiral of decline.

It wasn’t obvious at first that Cal was in his natural habitat. Many people had thought he was just “another Brit”. The token British rider, there to purely keep interest in the sport over here in Blighty. So many people had tried and failed to become anything in MotoGP. James Toseland, the former double WSBK champion, couldn’t make it happen at premier level. Jeremy McWilliams, great on the 250s, but never allowing potential to fulfil in the premier class. Neil Hodgson was yet another one who was never given the opportunity. Shane Byrne on the Aprilia and on the KTM, not to mention James Ellison on the WCM and PBM ART machine. Yes, us Brits endured a torrid time, but then came along our saviour, our hero, our Cal.

2012 was a much better year for Cal. He battled with Tech 3 teammate Andrea Dovizioso all year, winning most of the scraps he had with the Italian. At the Spanish Grand Prix, Jerez, Crutchlow finished 4th, just 2.4 seconds off the win and half a second off his first podium. Eyebrows were being raised over here. Surely he wouldn’t be able to mount the podium on a Satellite Yamaha? In true Cal Crutchlow style, he went and proved the doubters wrong, taking a third place at Brno! The Brits were back, as Scott Redding was on the up in Moto2, as was Bradley Smith. Danny Kent was racing through the ranks too, having an incredible year in Moto3. Crutchlow rounded out the season with a podium at Phillip Island, finishing the season 7th.

2013 would prove to be even better! For the first five races, he wasn’t outside of the top 5. A crash in Catalunya whilst with the leading quartet blotted his copy book, but he fought back with a stunning 3rd in Assen, almost beating eventual champion Marquez in a last lap scrap, as well as taking 2nd at the Sachsenring, where he would have to beat Valentino Rossi, who was on the Factory Spec bike. British fans were daring to dream of a win, but then Cal made the decision to move to the Factory Ducati team.

The dreams suddenly ended. The energy has suddenly subsided. It was all very sudden indeed. The bike that had ruined the careers of Marco Melandri, Nicky Hayden and to an extent, Loris Capirossi. The bike that not even The Doctor of Rossi could cure. Crutchlow was taking a huge risk, but only one man knew that he would make it work, and that was Cal himself.

Re-joining old sparring partner Dovizioso at Ducati, Cal had a decent first outing, with 6th in the Qatari Desert. This was better than Valentino’s 2011 debut. However, a massive crash at COTA meant Crutchlow’s season was effectively over before it began. After 7 races, Cal had finished two of them, and now us Brits were once again thinking it was yet another talent squandered. A shock podium at Aragon in the rain was the only time Cal would stand back on the box. Despite running an impressive 2nd at Phillip Island, he crashed out on the final lap, due to a sudden drop in track temperature. The season was a season to forget, and maybe having a factory bike wasn’t everything it was cracked up to be. Another year we had to wait for a win then.

Cal went back to a satellite team in 2015, with the LCR team, replacing Stefan Bradl. Crutchlow took a thrilling podium away from Andrea Iannone at Argentina, nicking it on the final flick left to seal the deal and beat the rider who replaced him on the Bologna Bullet. It would prove to be his only podium of the year but it was a sign that Cal was back. Cal could be the rider he was back in his Tech 3 Yamaha days.

2016 started off the worst way possible. After three races, the Coventry rider wasn’t carrying on his form, but instead, he was propping up the series table, as he was rock bottom. Things got better for him at Catalunya, as he took a 6th, but then, the ball started rolling. A simply stunning 2nd position in Germany emphasised and reminded us all that the name “Crutchlow” was still a formidable force.

It would be the Czech Grand Prix however where the wait would finally end. Having been languishing down in 13th for most of the race, the harder option tyre came to Cal as the softer option went away for the front runners. He and Valentino stormed through the field, but the Brit was the one to prevail. On the back wheel in a way only Cal could, he took his first win. 35 years of drought had been ended by number 35 himself. Silverstone was next, and from pole position, Crutchlow took a 2nd place in front of thousands of home fans willing him on. The season was just unbelievably successful.

Then, along came the Australian Grand Prix. Starting from the front row, Crutchlow made an appalling get away, but he made up for it and soon he was 2nd. At Honda hairpin, the camera panned, and it was an orange flash flying through the Australian dirt. Marc Marquez, the champion, the race leader, had crashed out in dramatic fashion. This left Cal Crutchlow with a mammoth task of keeping hold of the lead for the remainder of the race against the fiercest competitor of all time, Valentino Rossi. But, not even Valentino could do anything about the run-away Brit this time. Crutchlow became the first ever British winner of an Australian Grand Prix across all the classes. He had done it in the wet at Brno, but now, he had done it in the dry of Australia.

Crutchlow has reaffirmed his position as one of the finest riders in MotoGP. Now, he is a double winner. He is one of only a handful of riders to win a WSBK race and MotoGP race. He has taken us through good times, seen us through the bad times, and at last, ended the drought of waiting for a British winner. A character loved by everyone in the paddock, can now say that he’s a double Grand Prix winner. His name can go next to Barry Sheene’s in the record books. Against the odds, doubters and adversity, Cal is arguably the first homegrown Brit who has gone through the national series, to World level and then to the Premier class. Not only to do it, but to make it work at each stage. He is a legend. Our Cal, Britain’s saviour. Britain’s favourite.

Kiko Giles @MotoGPKiko

Hamilton untouchable in Texas


GP USA F1/2016 – AUSTIN (TEXAS) 23/10/2016

Lewis Hamilton has ended a win drought stretching back to July with an unassailable performance at the Circuit of the Americas. Starting from his first pole position at the Austin track, Hamilton led the field away cleanly and settled into a race of his own from the first corner onwards, leading almost every lap to take victory by four and a half seconds.

For Hamilton, who is fighting just to stay in contention of what many feel is already Nico Rosberg’s championship, his fiftieth career win was a crucial one. As the season approaches a string of races dominated by Rosberg last year, it was vital Hamilton assert himself at the US Grand Prix and turn the pressure back around onto his teammate.

But Hamilton was unable to do too much damage to Rosberg’s championship lead, as the German recovered from a bad start to finish second.

Having secured a front row start, Rosberg was aiming to do as his teammate had done to him before and jump Hamilton into Turn 1. But when Hamilton reached the apex first Rosberg was forced to try around the outside – only to find he’d left too inviting a gap for Daniel Ricciardo, who edged up the inside into second position.

But despite pulling away from Rosberg early on, Ricciardo’s race was compromised when Max Verstappen stopped beside the track with a gearbox problem and triggered a virtual safety car. With an effectively free pit stop in hand, Rosberg was easily able to regain second place from Ricciardo and then pull away on fresher tyres to a buffer of fifteen seconds.

The Silver Arrows’ respective results means the title battle closes up to twenty-six points in Rosberg’s favour – still a big enough advantage for the German to take the crown without winning again this season, but close enough for one DNF to open things right back up again.

James Matthews

Lowes returns to podium at Brno

Aboard the Team Federal Oil Gresini Moto2 Kalex machine Sam Lowes crossed the finish line of today’s rain hit Czech Grand Prix at Brno in third place: despite treacherous conditions the 25-year-old British rider put in an excellent performance, recovering from fifth to third position in the early laps of the race and maintaining the position until the checkered flag, behind winner Jonas Folger and Spaniard Alex Rins, second.

After two races in which he was forced to retire, Lowes was therefore back on the podium reinforcing the third position in the overall standings with 137 points ahead of his home Grand Prix at Silverstone, scheduled for September 4th.

Sam Lowes: The result gives me great conference

“Given the situation, this third place is a very important result for me: in the dry I had a great chance to win, because I rode well all weekend and I felt very competitive, but that’s okay , because I was able to keep a good pace also in the wet and I didn’t expect to be so fast. Today we still managed to beat Zarco, while for Rins, with 7-8 laps to go I thought it would be possible to reach him, then I preferred to avoid risks because we come from two DNFs and today it was really important to finish the race. This performance is also important ahead of my home race at Silverstone, because also there we may face a variable weather variable and today’s result gives me great confidence”.

The Top 10 Motorcycle Racing Venues in the World

We all know that motorcycle racing is an incredible sport and that some of the races we have witnessed will stay with us for a long time to come, but aside from the superhuman athletes their selves, it tends to be the venue that lends itself wonderfully. Let’s take a look at some of the most iconic circuits all around the world and see why they have become known to deal us fans some incredible racing.

10.) Sepang, Selangor, Malaysia

Sepang has been a track that has thrown up some of the most extraordinary races in the past, and in 2015, it also became host to one of the most controversial moments in GP history (I’m sure I don’t need to tell you what happened). Its long sweeping chicanes make it a favourite for riders to prepare a move in one corner and execute it in the next, similar to Mugello and Brno. In 2015, WSBK visited for the second year and we were given two of the best races ever. The first was Jonathan Rea and Chaz Davies going side by side to finishing line on the last lap, for Rea to just pip Davies. The second was slightly more aggressive with Davies throwing his Ducati up the inside of Rea for what was simply one of the most explosive races in recent Superbike years. However, Sepang lands itself a top 10 place not just for the layout of the track, but also for the sheer climate of Malaysia. Humid would be an understatement, and the weather really can be unpredictable, with sun beaming through one minute and rain lashing down the next. It puts riders and bike, as well as mechanics and journalists through the paces, and that’s why winning at Sepang could mean something extra special.

9.) Kyalami, Gauteng, South Africa

Kyalami in South Africa has been on and off the World Superbike calendar for a number of years and is currently having a makeover to hopefully bring MotoGP and WSBK back to that part of the world. The old track lent itself beautifully to bike racing, with some of the fastest and scariest corners in the world at this facility. The first turn was a right hand kink before sweeping left into a triple left hander. Then they would head along the old front straight into Sunset bend, before two more right handers were tackled. Perhaps the scariest part of the track was the mineshaft, the place where Regis Laconi nearly lost his life in 2009. The track has played host to some of the best races in history, including the sensation 2000 WSBK season opening round, when Edwards and Haga went head to head in not one, but two races. South Africa would dearly love to return to the MotoGP calendar, whether it be at Kyalami or Welkom, and it is for the frightening corners and ferociously fast straights, along with the atmosphere and fan support that earns Kyalami a place in the top 10.

8.) Laguna Seca, Monterrey, America

Laguna Seca made a welcome return to the World Superbike calendar in 2013 after an eight-year hiatus, and although the racing hasn’t been too spectacular, it’s the fact that it is edging a deprived World Superbike Championship back to its best by being there on the calendar. Let’s face it, after all the memories that have been made and saved at Laguna Seca, it would be hard to imagine the WSBK grid not being there. From Doug Chandler’s and Akira Yanagawa’s huge crash in 1998, to Colin Edwards’ sensational double four years later, this track has had it all, and is known for one thing. The Corkscrew. The Corkscrew has been home to many memorable moments at Laguna, including Valentino Rossi’s antics on Casey Stoner in 2008, as well as the site of Wayne Rainey’s number one salute on the final lap of the 1990 US GP. The track itself is incredibly dangerous, with the front straight lined with concrete walls. However, the trackside marshals at Laguna Seca are simply second to none, and had they not been as efficient as they had in the catastrophic start line pile up for the WSBK race one restart, there could have been a lot more serious injuries. It is the track, the features and the memories that put Laguna Seca in the category of great motorcycle racing tracks.

7.) Jerez, Jerez de la Frontera, Spain

Jerez may have not given us a last lap thrill in the premier class for a few years but in the past it has been a track that has thrown up an unbelievable finish to a race. World Superbikes returned to the track in 2013, and immediately, Eugene Laverty and Marco Melandri went head to head, and it was the Irishman Laverty who snatched the win from ex GP star Melandri. Who can forget Rossi and Sete Gibernau clashing in 2005. The crowds of people that were on their feet in anticipation as two of the best riders of the time put on a sensational show. The lap starts off slowly but opens up through turn three and four before the Sito Pons corner forces you to get a good drive down to turn six, a prime overtaking opportunity. However, what really makes the track special is the double right hander heading back towards the pits and the final corner of Lorenzo (previously the Ducados Hairpin). The incredible atmosphere from the Spanish crowd all around the track has made it one that is loved by fans all over the world, but recent political issues in Spain could see an end to the Jerez circuit on the GP calendar, but WSBK looks set to continue at the venue. It really has got the perfect build up for a bit of ‘Argy Bargy’ in the final corner on the final lap.

6.) Misano, Rimini, San Marino

Misano has had something of a renaissance in the world of motorcycle racing in recent years, with the circuit being completely revamped, races now being held in the opposite direction and also the rise of Italian stars from the Adriatic Coast has made it a real fan favourite. When Valentino Rossi won back in 2014, the place went from a motorcycle circuit to an all-out street party, and it really is a special venue for all fans of the sport. However, it has seen some incredible races outside of the premier class of racing, particularly in World Superbikes. Back in 2001, Ben Bostrom romped home to take his first WSBK double; in 2007, Japanese legend Noriyuki Haga bought down Max Biaggi and also in the Moto3 race in 2015, we saw Italian Enea Bastianini take his first and so far only GP win. However, the track was renamed in 2012 to ‘World Circuit Marco Simoncelli’, in memory of the Italian 250cc champ of 2008, and you can really see why. The fast circuit asks a rider to be brave, flamboyant and determined, everything the late Italian was. And it is this combination of heritage entwined with a superb circuit that makes this a very special place!

5.) Old Hockenheimring, Baden-Württemberg, Germany

The Old Hockenheimring in Germany was for years one of the greatest rounds in the WSBK season. With more than eight riders battling it out for the lead, it was a massive fans favourite, as well as a rider’s favourite. However, this thrilling and exciting spectacle wasn’t without danger. In 1999, Igor German had a huge crash on his Bertochi Kawasaki, so violent that it ripped the front wheel off. In 1996, Troy Corser crashed out not just once but twice, both times were very fast. In 1989, Ivan Palazzese lost his life in a tragic 125cc GP accident. However, there have been brighter times too. In 1996, WSBK erupted into life with two smashing races; the first saw Aaron Slight and Frankie Chili go head to head right down to the final corners, until Chili crashed in a huge way. The second race was simply spectacular, with 24 lead changes, with Paolo Casoli, Carl Fogarty, Aaron Slight, Troy Corser, Simon Crafar, Anthony Gobert, Frankie Chili and John Kocinski all taking the helm at some point during the race! It was Foggy though who triumphed to the roar of everyone in the stands, to take one of just a handful of wins on the Honda! In 2000, Nitro Nori Haga stormed through to mug Colin Edwards of victory with just 3 corners to go, to claim Yamaha’s first WSBK win at the circuit. Hockenheim did consist of long straights, fast chicanes and hard braking points and is now merely a shadow of what it once was, although it is still a great track. It is for the memories and for the raw speed of the place that it earns itself a place on the Top 10 Motorcycle Race tracks.

4.) Suzuka, Ino, Japan

Suzuka is a track that isn’t used as much for bikes as it is for cars anymore, since Daijiro Kato was tragically killed in the MotoGP event back in 2003. However, the track is still home to the Suzuka 8 hours’ endurance race and most of the circuit has remained unchanged since its MotoGP days. The first section really is all about keeping your momentum up through the corners and through the elevation change, before you plunge downhill for the Degna corners. One of the best corners is that of the long right hander just before you arrive at spoon corner, which is itself a prime opportunity to overtake. However, one of the best corners in the whole world is that of 130R, just after the figure of eight crossovers. We have seen many races won and lost there, and some pretty big crashes too. Eddie Lawson and Michael Doohan had a major crash there at the start of the 1990 500cc championship, as well as seeing the 2003 125cc GP race decided at that very corner too. Despite being one of the most dangerous circuits still in existence and despite the negative press it often gets, Suzuka has all the essential ingredients to make it one of the best tracks in the world for bike racing.

3.) Brands Hatch, Fawkham, Great Britain

Brands Hatch in Kent, England has seen more people than any other venue in Europe pay to get in through the gates. Back in the early naughties, over 150,000 bike fanatics would squeeze into one of the most exhilarating courses in the world, creating an atmosphere that you could only experience if you were there. The track itself has some of the best corners in motorcycle racing, including Paddock Hill, the immensely fast Hawthorn corner, Dingle Dell and the final corner of Clearways, all of which have played host to some of the most audacious overtakes we have ever seen. The track itself is situated with in a forest, with trees lining the track from Surtees all the way back to Clearways. The fast challenging corners along with the electric atmosphere and air horns makes Brands Hatch one of the most iconic circuits in superbike racing; some would even argue that it is the signature of World Superbikes, despite it not being on the calendar any more.

2.) Assen, De Haar, Netherlands

Assen for me, is one of the greatest motorsport venues anywhere in the world. It’s tight and twisty first section may be one of those that is very much one-line and one that is hard to pass on, but as soon as we get past the Struben hairpin, the track opens up into a sensationally elegant and sophisticated surface, with passing opportunities one after the other. However, the last section from the fast double right hander down to the infamous chicane is one that hasn’t just decided races, but its seen host to some of the most controversial moments in our sport. From Frankie Chili and Carl Fogarty in 1998 right up to the recent 2015 clash between Valentino Rossi and Marc Marquez, the final six corners have dealt us some of the best racing in the sports history. This, coincided with the roars of the crowd makes the circuit live up to its name as the ‘Cathedral of Speed’.

1.) Phillip Island, Victoria, Australia

Phillip Island in Australia has thrown up some of the best motorcycle races in both MotoGP and World Superbikes. From the sensational 2015 Australian MotoGP back to the start of the year where World Superbikes put on a spectacular show, this circuit has never failed to deliver top class racing, testing not just the riders, but the bikes and mechanics too. Notorious for its fast sweeping corners of Doohan, Stoner, and the Hayshed, it is the perfect match of excitement and danger. There have been some huge crashes at the circuit; Alex Barros had a massive get off in 2005 at the Hayshed, Jordi Torres crashed at the fast turn one in the second WSBK race in 2015 and of course the huge crash at the Southern Loop that nearly cost Britain’s Danny Kent of title success in the 2015 Moto3 race. Phillip Island is what is known as a ‘rider’s circuit’, with its sensationally fast Gardner straight leading into incredibly fast sweeping corners, there is no surprise that everyone connected to WSBK and MotoGP can’t wait to get here, let alone the fans. It is for these reasons that Phillip Island is not just the best MotoGP circuit, but also the best race track in the world!

Q&A With Porsche Club Driver Natalie McGloin


I had the pleasure of meeting up with Nathalie McGloin at Brands Hatch this weekend just passed, a delightful lady who currently is the only female within the UK with spinal injuries to hold an ARDS. We had been chatting throughout the previous week after I’d seen the youtube video of Nathalie completing her required 7 second emergency exit. From the very second I saw the video,  I knew I wanted the opportunity to interview her, at first I was in awe, let’s face it I would struggle to make the 7 second exit requirement on the best of days. This quickly fell away to wanting to know more about her, knowing she must have a strong character to have chosen motorsport as her thrill.

She completed two races this weekend and amazingly she finished 12th in her second ever race, considering at one point earlier in the day she’d been on two wheels, this was an amazing comeback to what must have been a confidence knock. I was fortunate to be up at Stopwatch Hospitality and had a fantastic view of most of the track, the group I was with were also supporting Nathalie, if only she could have heard all of our shouts of encouragement and at times our amateur advice on braking and when to get back on the gas, although this would probably have been more a hindrance than a help, Nathalie is after all the one who knows what she is doing. What was clear even to all of us was that we were witnessing an improvement in every lap, she was certainly fearless and made a few overtakes and more importantly made them stick. Overall I was so impressed with Nathalie’s talent, that it’s clear she will only improve over the season and with more race experience and I, for one cannot wait to see what happens. Bring on the next round!

Here’s what Nathalie told me of herself and I got to ask her some questions too :-

Being in a car crash aged just 16 Nathalie was left paralysed from the neck down, she spent a year in a spinal injury rehab centre and afterwards returned to school to obtain her A Levels and then on to University studying English.

Nathalie with her nature to be stubborn wouldn’t accept any help with care and was determined to live a completely independent life. Signing up to wheelchair rugby got her the fitness she needed and she was soon invited to her first tournament, she fell in love with the sport and even said she loved the aggressive nature of the sport and how you were allowed to hit one another with the chairs! She quickly decided she wanted to be a serious competitor, she started to train to make the national team. Studying at university and training for the GB wheelchair rugby trials at the same time, once she had graduated she knew she wanted to move to London to play for the London team. The more she trained the more her passion grew for the sport. She went from the ‘girl in the wheelchair’ to an ‘athlete’ and she felt she was conquering her injury.

After the Paralympics things began to change within the sport, politics became heavily involved in team selection and she forgot the reason she once fell in love with the sport, so eventually she left the GB squad and continued to play on a recreational level ,but it wasn’t enough.

Nathalie has always loved cars and has been known for buying fast cars even if they were wholly impractical for a wheelchair. She had been tracking her 911’s for about 6 years, she looked into getting her racing licence and discovered how difficult it was going to be but that didn’t stop her, she made it her next challenge.!

Nathalie passed her ARDS test in October 2013. She had to complete several sprint events, a medical and seemingly impossible 7 second car exit to qualify. The determined women she is this didn’t stop her, she was set up with a race team at Silverstone and bought a Cayman S and decided to enter the Porsche Club Championship in May 2014. The date grew closer and Nathalie realised she needed more time to gain experience or time to complete the sprint events and that she wasn’t with the right team.

After a messy departure she met James Cameron who runs Mission Motorsport, a charity that rehabilitates injured soldiers back into working life through motorsport. Nathalie spent half a day with them she knew they were the right team for her and even though she had no army background they wanted to help.

The Cayman was handed over to them and she realised there was a lot of work to do for the wrongs of the previous race team. The cage was not suitable for her to use , barely getting into the car how could she make that 7 second exit? A lot of time was spent sorting the problems but by the end of the season only 3 out of 4 required sprints were complete.

Her race car was out of action she had to complete in her heavy 4WD 911 Turbo for most of them, the 500hp engine was a big advantage and to her surprise she finished 1st in class in her first ever sprint. She took this confidence into the winter season and and booked her last required sprint for the next season in March and got focused for the racing come May.

Before Christmas, Nathalie traded in her 4WD Turbo for a GT3 so that whilst the preparations were ongoing, she had a car to practise in. She fast realised she would need to change her driving style to ‘keep it on the black stuff’, learning her craft and falling in love with her new car so when her sprint date arrived in March she felt nervous but ready.After a year and a half Nathalie completed her sprints, sorted the car and nailed that 7 second car exit. Her race license was rubber stamped just over a week before her first race. After how long it has taken to achieve it she felt ready and knew it has been totally worth it all.

Q) What adaptions have you got in your car for you?

A) I have Radial controls in my race car, they are a type of hand control located to the right of the steering wheel. You push down for throttle and forward for brake.

Q) What are your targets for the season?

A) I’d like to finish all of my races and I don’t want to come last!

Q) Do you get to pick your race number? What is it be and why?

A) I did get to pick my race number, I chose 5. It was the lowest number available and single digits are always good. It doesn’t mean anything now but I’ll stick with it and hopefully it might mean something in the future.

Q) Tell me about your helmet design?

A) Its carbon, it’s light and it looks ace!

Q) In 3 words describe your racing style?

A) Immediate boundary pusher!

Q) In 3 words describe yourself ?

A) Driven, enthusiastic, passionate.

Q) How’s the training and preparation been going for this weekend?

A) Erm….training? My plan is: turn up and drive. My race car has only just been finished this week so training has been somewhat limited. But I’m as ready as I’ll ever be.

Q) Have you got any other formulas you have your eyes on for the future?

A) With getting my race licence and car sorted I haven’t really had time to think about anything else. We’ll see how this season goes first.

Q) Have you found any of the wheelchair rugby skills that have swapped over into useful for racing?

A) They’re both adrenaline junkie sports that require huge amounts of discipline. Obviously the stakes are much higher in Motorsport, but what you do on court affects your team mates and what you do on the race circuit affects your competitors. You have to make the right judgement calls and this transfers over both sports.

Q) You are going to dinner with up to 4 people that have influenced you in your life,or heroes of yours who would you choose & why?

A) Noel Gallagher. I grew up with his music and I absolutely love the guy. I wouldn’t need anybody else there!

Q)  KFC or McDonalds?

A) McDonalds!

Q) Dirty Dancing or The Terminator films?

A) Dirty Dancing.

Q) Tom Boy or Girlie Girl??

A) Neither, I just like what I like and do what I do!

Q) How does it feel to be the only spinal injured female with an ARDS??

A) It’s an honour to be the first, I hope I’m not the last.

McLaren German GP Review

McLaren are heading in to the summer break with a points scoring finish in Germany. This was the team’s 7th points scoring finish this season. Both Jenson and Fernando ran inside the top 10 for most parts of the race, but due to some fuel saving needed for both drivers it ended up where Jenson would remain in the top 10 at the end finishing 8th. Fernando sadly fell back in the closing stages to 12th place. The team are showing clear signs of progress at the half way point of the season now. The Hockenheim circuit was felt like it was going to be a tricky race for the team but a points finished ended up being well deserved.



Started:    13th
Finished:    12th
Fastest Lap:    1m20.132s on lap 50 (+1.690s, 13th)
Pitstops:    Three: laps 14 (2.58s), 28 (2.95s) and 47 (2.65s) [Option-Prime-Option-Option] 

“It was a very tough race, possibly one of the toughest so far this season, especially towards the end, when my tyres were finished and I had to do a lot of fuel-saving.

“We knew before we came here that it might be a tough weekend. Ultimately, I lost 10th position at the end of the race, so we didn’t score that last point that we were hoping for. But we just didn’t have the pace throughout the entire race.

“Getting ready for the Belgian Grand Prix is our priority now – hopefully we’ll come back stronger after the summer break.”


Started:    12th
Finished:    8th
Fastest Lap:    1m19.781s on lap 48 (+1.339s, 9th)
Pitstops:    Three: laps 13 (2.54s), 31 (2.40s) and 46 (2.74s) [Option-Prime-Option-Option]

“I made a very good start and made up most of the places there. After that, it was just about looking after the tyres, which were degrading faster than we’d expected. We also had to do a fair amount of fuel-saving, too, particularly in the last 10 laps. In fact, I went off the circuit towards the end, just because I was doing so much fuel-saving that I hit the brakes and they were just stone cold. I hadn’t even been braking hard.

“At the end, I was able to pick off Valtteri, who was struggling on his tyres. It feels satisfying to have beaten both Williams, but eighth was as good as it was going to get today – we were 20 seconds behind the car in front, and there’s still quite a bit to go before we catch those guys.

“Still, we’ve made good progress: we’re consistently fighting in the points, and the team are doing a great job this year, bringing something new to pretty much every single race. I want to say thank-you and well done to the whole team for their efforts.

“I’m looking forward to coming back and fighting after the summer break – but, right now, I’m looking forward to a holiday!”

Haas F1:German Grand Prix Review

Hockenheim, Germany.
Sunday 31 July 2016.
World Copyright: Glenn Dunbar/LAT Photographic
ref: Digital Image _V2I7307

Haas F1 Team drivers Esteban Gutiérrez and Romain Grosjean drove to hard-fought 11th- and 13th-place finishes, respectively, in the German Grand Prix Sunday at the Hockenheimring.

While the effort did not yield a point-paying result, it was still a strong showing from the American team as both drivers had to rally from deep within the 22-car field. Gutiérrez got bottlenecked at the start and dropped to 18th while Grosjean started the 67-race from 20th after incurring a five-place grid penalty for a gearbox change on Saturday.

The duo employed a two-stop strategy, but with differing tire selections. Gutiérrez started the race using the Pirelli P Zero Yellow soft tire and Grosjean started with the Red supersoft. Pit stops began on lap eight, but the Haas F1 Team drivers stayed out for as long as they could before making their first stops, allowing each to gain considerable track position.

Grosjean came in for his first stop at the end of lap 17 after climbing to eighth. Gutiérrez was the last driver to make his first stop, hitting pit lane at the end of lap 25 after rising to 12th. Grosjean went with a new set of Yellow softs while Gutiérrez switched to Red supersofts.

The team’s final round of pit stops began on lap 43 when Grosjean came in for a switch to Red supersofts. Gutiérrez followed at the end of lap 47, also taking Red supersofts.

While both drivers were a lap down after their pit cycles, they remained on the cusp of the top-10, with Gutiérrez 14th and Grosjean 15th with 16 laps remaining. Each driver made separate, masterful passes to get around the Renault of Kevin Magnussen, with Gutiérrez overtaking him on lap 52 and Grosjean doing the same on lap 55.

The moves, along with Carlos Sainz Jr. bringing his Toro Rosso to pit lane for his final stop, allowed Gutiérrez and Grosjean to climb to 12th and 13th, respectively.

Twelve rounds into the 21-race Formula One schedule, Haas F1 Team remains eighth in the constructor standings with 28 points. However, seventh-place McLaren widened the gap over the American team to 14 points via Jensen Button’s eighth-place finish. Haas F1 Team’s 22-point advantage over ninth-place Renault went unchanged as neither Magnussen nor Jolyon Palmer finished in the points.

Lewis Hamilton won the German Grand Prix by 6.996 seconds over Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo. It was Hamilton’s 49th career Formula One victory, leaving him but 2 wins from typing Alain Prost for second place on the all times win list.

Nine races remain on the 2016 Formula One schedule, with the next event coming in three weeks with the Belgian Grand Prix in Spa-Francorchamps.

Romain Grosjean – Driver #8

“It wasn’t too bad. I think we had a good pace, but the middle stint behind the Renault saw my brakes massively overheat, and I lost them completely for a few laps. That clearly put us on the back foot. I couldn’t get by, and that cost us having a shot at points. We need to understand that, but generally the car behaved in the race. I’m happier this afternoon than I was yesterday. Overall, it’s been an awesome first half of the season. I want us to be able to come back and score regularly in the top-10. There are a few things we need to unlock. We’ve got the potential in the car. We just need to put it all together.”

Esteban Gutiérrez – Driver #21

“It wasn’t an easy start. I had too much wheel spin and I was passed by quite a few cars. We were the only ones on soft tires, which was an aggressive strategy, so we were expecting to struggle for the first stint. After that I started to hold as much as I could and then began to fight back in the second stint. I was pushing all the way, trying to recover as much as I could, as well as trying to handle fuel saving. We’re not satisfied where we ended up, as we didn’t get the points we were aiming for. Now we head into the summer break, which will be good for the team after four races in five weeks. We’re all going to recharge our batteries and come back stronger, fighting for points at Spa.”

Guenther Steiner – Team Principal

“In general, we had a good race, though Esteban had a bad start. We need to look into that, and do better there, because we finished 11th again, one position out of the points. We basically started 18th and 20th and not 11th and 20th. Romain went from 20th to 13th. There wasn’t a lot more to do there, and obviously Esteban finished 11th. The car showed the pace and we had no mistakes, but when you start in those positions, sometimes that’s the best you can achieve. We know the pace is there. We can do it, we just have to pull it all together and get it done. We’ve showed that we can do that, which is ultimately a positive for the team moving forward.”

Next up – – VACATION!

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